By STEVE RUMAN
NILES — Ouch!
That about sums up the feeling expressed by the 2,266 fans in attendance Wednesday at Eastwood Field, who watched the Mahoning Valley Scrappers suffer their most heartbreaking loss of the season in a 8-7 setback to Auburn.
Leading 6-2 after eight innings, the Scrappers surrendered five runs in the ninth, then rallied to send the game into extra innings, only to fall in 12 innings.
Following the wild ninth, things calmed down until a pair of leadoff walks led to an Auburn run in the 12th. The game-winning run came across the plate when the Scrappers were unable to turn a double play on a grounder hit by Brad Emaus.
The loss drops the Scrappers (31-27) 31⁄2 games behind the Doubledays in the Pinckney Division of the New York-Penn League.
The Scrappers scored the game’s first two runs in the bottom of the second off Auburn starter Luis Perez. After Matt Brown opened the frame with a single, he advanced to second on a Chris Nash walk. Both men moved up a base on a Cristo Arnal bunt back to the pitcher.
The sacrifice immediately paid dividends when Jeff Hehr lined a single up the middle to plate two runs.
Auburn quickly answered with a pair of runs in the top of the third to knot the game at 2-2. After Ben Zeskind scored on a Darin Mastroianni flyout, the Doubledays tied the game without having to swing their bats. Scrappers starter Dan Frega walked a pair of batters and hit a batter, forcing in the game-tying run.
The two runs scored by Auburn broke a string of 20 consecutive scoreless innings turned in by Scrappers starting pitchers.
The Scrappers quickly regained the lead at 3-2 in the bottom of the third on a Brown RBI sacrifice fly.
After Frega retired Auburn in order in the fourth, the Doubledays mounted a scoring threat in the fifth when the first three batters reached base. Mastoianni led off the frame with a single to center, but he was erased trying to steal second.
After surrendering two more base hits, Frega was relieved by William Delage, who got the Scrappers out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts.
Delage went on to pitch three scoreless innings, surrendering just one hit while recording three strikeouts.
Delage (0-4) owns a 5.04 earned run average, but since being moved to the bullpen he has pitched seven scoreless innings with nine strikeouts.
The Scrappers appeared to put the game out of reach with a three-run eighth. Hehr knocked in his fourth run of the night with a two-run single, then Adam White gave the Scrappers a 6-2 advantage with a run-producing double.
However, the Doubledays used the long ball to put together a five-run ninth inning. Zeskind belted a two-run homer to deep right, then Brad Emaus hit a line shot over the second wall in left field.
Trailing 7-6 entering the bottom of the ninth, the Scrappers received three straight singles from Infante, Martin and Alex Castillo to send the game into extra innings.
After the Doubledays took the lead in the top of the 12th, White got as far as third base in the bottom half of the frame on a walk, a stolen base and a throwing error. However, the threat was ended on a flyout off the bat of Thompson.
The Scrappers will look to rebound tonight when they begin a two-game series against Batavia.
HOW THEY SCORED
Scrappers 2nd — Matt Brown singled past the shortstop. Chris Nash walked, Brown advanced to second. Cristo Arnal hit a sacrifice bunt to the pitcher, was thrown out 1-3, Brown advanced to third, Nash to second. Jeff Hehr singled up the middle, Brown and Nash scored. Adam White was called out on strikes. Mark Thompson hit a ground ball to the shortstop, Hehr was forced out 6-4. 2 runs, 2 hits, 1 LOB.
Auburn 3rd — Ben Zeskind singled up the middle. Adam Calderone singled to right, Zeskind advanced to third. Darin Mastroianni flew out to center, Zeskind scored. Manny Rodriguez flew out to center. Brad Emaus walked, Calderone advanced to second. J.P. Arencibia was hit by a pitch, Calderone advanced to third, Emaus advanced to second. C.J. Ebarb walked, Calderone scored, Emaus advanced to third, Arencibia advanced to second. Baron Frost hit a ground ball to the shortstop, Ebarb was forced out at second 6-4. 2 runs, 2 hits, 3 LOB.
Scrappers 3rd — Jansy Infante reached on an infield single. Todd Martin singled to left field, Infante advanced to second. Alex Castillo hit a sacrifice bunt back to the pitcher, was thrown out 1-3, Infante advanced to third, Martin advanced to second. Brown flew out to center field, Infante scored, Martin advanced to third. Nash struck out swinging. 1 run, 2 hits, 1 LOB.
Scrappers 8th — Castillo Brown grounded out to second. Nash singled to right. Arnal reached on an infield single , Nash advanced to second. Hehr doubled to center, Nash and Arnal scored. White doubled down the left field line, Hehr scored. White was caught stealing, 2-5. 3 runs, 4 hits.
Auburn 9th — Luis Sanchez singled to right. Zeskind homered to deep right, Sanchez scored. Calderone reached on a fielding error by the pitcher. Mastroianni grounded out 4-3, Calderone advanced to second. Rodriguez reached on an infield single. Emaus homered to deep left, Calderone and Rodriguez scored. Arencibia struck out swinging. Ebarb singled up the middle. Frost struck out swinging. 5 runs, 5 hits, 1 error, 1 LOB.
Scrappers 9th — Thompson singled to center. Infante reached on a fielders choice, Thompson was forced out at second. Martin singled to right, Infante advanced to third. Castillo singled to left, Infante scored, Martin advanced to third. Brown was intenionally walked, Castillo advanced to second. Nash struck out swinging. Arnal hit a grounder to the shortstop, Brown was forced out 6-4. 1 run, 3 hits, 3 LOB.
Auburn 12th — Caldrone reached on a walk. Calderone was thrown out trying to steal, 2-6. Mastroianni walked. Santana singled to center, Mastoianni advanced to third. Emaus reached on a fielders choice, Mastroianni scored, Santana was forced out at second 5-4. Emaus advanced to second on an error by the pitcher on a pickoff attempt. Arencibia grounded out to third. 1 run, 1 hit, 1 error, 1 LOB.